MPC Art Gallery show

The Monterey Peninsula Art Gallery exhibition actually started on October 3rd, but  the opening was on the 13th. I’m just back, and a friend took this picture. Thought I share it.


IMG 5440

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Fast, excellent raw file viewer

Need a fast and accurate camera raw file viewer?

This one, cleverly named “FastRawViewer” is well worth a look, not to mention the extremely modest fee:

Scroll to the bottom of the page for some reviews by names you’ll likely recognize. The same folks wrote RawDigger, so they know whereof the speak… (so to speak…)

Highly recommended.


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DPI, PPI, pixels and size

It’s surprising how often I see a call-out, a request, for a digital image something like “2000 x 3000 @ 72 dpi”.

That’s actually nonsense.

A digital image’s size is its size, period. “2000 x 3000 @ 72 dpi” or “2000 x 3000 @ 300 dpi” is not going to change the size of the file. The file is 2000 x 3000.

What it does do is say “If I print this at 72 dpi, the resulting print will be  27.7″ x 41.6″, but if I print it at 300 dpi, the print will be 6.6″ x 10″.

It would be very unusual for a person making a print to ask you to embed the dpi in a file, since that’s something they will set themselves. 

However, it does make sense to use “dpi” if the size specification is in inches instead of pixels (as in dots per inch):  “send me an image that’s 5″ x 7″ @ 300 dpi.” That file will be 1500 x 2100 pixels. (5 x 300 = 1500; 7 * 300 = 2100). Equally, if someone asks you to send them an image specified as  just “5 x 7” – then you have no idea at all what to send (unless perhaps you send them an actual 5×7 print instead of a digital file.)

Digital files are specified by either just pixel dimensions OR by inches and dpi. Mixing one with the other makes no sense.

And finally,  the proverbial “72 dpi” – which is probably wrong on a couple of counts, unless you’re printing a huge image, meant to be viewed from a great distance. It would never work for a printed photograph.

The person specifying “72 dpi” is probably thinking of a computer monitor screen, but as far as I know, no computer monitor has been made at 72 ppi (notice: PIXELS per Inch, not DOTS per inch) in well over a decade, perhaps 2 decades. Today’s monitors pretty much begin at 94 ppi and go up from there. And even then, specifying a ppi for a monitor is meaningless, since the pixels per inch of a monitor is fixed, and cannot change (whereas one can print at any chosen dpi.)

PPI (Pixels per inch) is used for displays, such as monitors and TVs; dots per inch (DPI) is used in the printing process. (It is usually true, with rare exceptions, that 1 ppi = 1 dpi.)


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Monitor checking / test


is a great Photoshop file, with several layers, each of which you can view on your monitor as an aid in determining how well your monitor is calibrated and profiled.

Highly recommended.

Free, but requires an email sign-up. I joined them several years ago, and get an email once every blue moon.

(Oh, and if you’re of a mind, join and make a contribution while you’re there…)

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Yeah, but is it Art (transcript)

Well, a journey that began a year ago has finally arrived at its destination, and I have at last posted the text (as a PDF) of my talk at the Center for Photographic Art in January of this year.

The zipped file is here:
and the unzipped pdf is here:

Fair warning: this is not a “light read” – the PDF is 37 pages and over 13,000 words long. You may, or very well may not, agree with my take on the topic “Yeah, but is it Art?”

Feel free to discuss (or vent) here or via email. Just keep it civil.

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Fixing over-sharpened images in Photoshop

Here are two approaches to fixing over-sharpened images in Photoshop. Both rely on the blending mode you are using.

The first is “before the fact” – that is, if you have not sharpened the image yet, do this:

1) duplicate the image, which will place an identical copy above your base layer.

2) do your sharpening on that duplicated layer. If the sharpening produces the dreaded white halo, do this:

3) set the blend mode of that over-sharpened layer to darken;

4) zoom into a problem area and set the opacity to about 66% to start.

5) watching the screen, adjust that percentage as needed.

Using this technique, you may end up with some pixel size darker artifacts, but they will, in the finished print, be basically invisible.

6) you may need to add a gamma adjustment layer to finish it off.

This approach saves considerable time when the halos are many, and spread throughout the image.

If instead you have the halos around mountain or roof-tops, or similar dark vs only slightly less dark areas, or you only have an ill-sharpened image, then you can fix the image without resorting to a new layer.

Using pretty much the same method, do this:

Using the spot tool, create a brush that is soft-edged and 3 or 4 times the size of the halo. There is room for “slop” in this, and since you’re going to trace over the halo, you might as well make it easier with a larger brush.

Option click to select the source from the LIGHTER of the two areas (but not the halo itself.) For example a lighter sky with a darker roof-top. Option click the lighter sky.

Then set the blending mode to darken, and simply brush away the halo.

If you have been pixel-peeping to fix halos, either of these techniques will truly make your day.

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My friend, Al Weber

Al Weber  passed away Feb 27, 2016. He was my friend, although others certainly knew him better or longer. What we shared, he shared with all: his love of photography. Because we both had a similar sense of simple designs and abstracts, we enjoyed sharing our images with each other. 

More than any other single person, Al changed the course of my journey thru photography. Yes, I’ve been shooting for almost 60 years, but I didn’t really get serious about it until a dozen years ago. Al was the juror for a show at the Center for Photographic Art, in Carmel, a while back, and not one, but two of my images were selected by him for the walls of that storied institution. As we talked about them, we felt a kinship, and I visited him many times at his home. His wonderful wife, Suzie, would putter in the kitchen, or out in the garden. The dogs would bound around excitedly to have someone new. The cat would  hide in the bathroom. Al and I would talk until he got tired.

He honored me greatly by choosing me to be the speaker at one of his famous King City Rendezvous.

And he fell in love with one of my images, “Basement Bistro” and insisted that if I’d print it big, someone would buy it. I felt I was in no position to disagree, so that 13 x 19 print became his, and I had another printed at 36 x 54. One thing led to another, and the big print became the first of my pieces to be collected by a museum, and now resides at The Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.

But as great a high-point as that was, the most meaningful thing he ever said to me was on one of my last visits, a few months ago. I would always come out with a  handful of photos to show him, and I’d always ask “what do you think?”

On this visit, after going thru a dozen images or so, he said to me “You know, I’m concerned that you always ask what I think. You’re every bit the photographer that I am, and what I think isn’t anything you don’t already know. I like your photos, so quit asking.”

That was Al. Pointed; a bit gruff and as honest and passionate as the day is long. Yes: I am pretty confident in my work,  but you have no idea how much it meant to me to hear Al Weber say those words.

Al: I’ll miss you. You changed my life my friend, and I shall never forget you.


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And one from the Santa Cruz Art League National Show

 There’s nothing like the prime position!


Screen Shot 2015 07 19 at 2 09 32 PM

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Show at The Triton Art Museum

Actually, this sorta belongs in the “Events” blog, but that’s a text-only blog, so here’s the poster for the show.

I hope my readers get a chance to come by and see the images.


TritonShowPosterScreen Shot 2015 07 19 at 2 10 22 PM

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Extrapolation: is the printer driver the same or better at enlargements?

I’ve seen this all over the web:

“Don’t bother with fancy and expensive extrapolation software. Just let the printer driver do the enlargement. It’s just as good, if not better.”

Overly optimistic, I’d say… but you tell me.

Below is the same image extrapolated to 300% of the original size.

On the left is the work of PhotoZoom Pro v6, and on the right is the Epson 9890 driver. The results seem pretty clear to me.




Download the original (and larger) scan file, zipped, here.

also see:


Addendum: The original post stopped with the image, above. Then I was asked why I didn’t post my methodology for creating the comparison. Here’s my reply:


As to my blog article, there are the comparison images and no methodology description for one reason: there is only one way to have the printer enlarge an image: pass in the image and choose the resulting size. There are no options, (ie sharpening in the driver) at least with the Epson driver on a Mac.

As to the actual details of the sample image, it’s about 1″ on a side at 360 ppi. (420 x 360 actually.) I passed it in to the printer driver and told it to print it at 300%. That’s the same thing as passing it in at 120 ppi (and in fact, that’s what the driver shows as soon as you put in “300%”)

As to the left hand image, enlarged by PhotoZoom Pro, it’s the same image file, of course, and enlarged to the same amount. In PZP, I set all the controls to Zero except sharpening, which I habitually keep at 41. I set the DPI at 360.

I printed each file (at this point 3.5 x 3 inches), and then scanned them side by side, in a single pass at 600 ppi, loaded the image into Preview, and took a screenshot, and posted the result. (That’s what you’re seeing above.)

So…since there is only one way to enlarge with the printer driver, and that does not allow any post-sharpening because it’s a print by then, I didn’t mention how to do it.

And since using a third-party tool does allow modest adjustment after resizing, and that is the whole point of the comparison, I didn’t mention that either.

I will say that my PZP setting (41) is NOT my final choice for my own prints. It’s an intermediary step that is sort of the equivalent of raw-presharpening – it just brings the extrapolated image back to a fundamental working state. I typically return the image to Photoshop for additional work and sharpening after it’s been resized.



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